Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Taking the Fight to Mosquitoes

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

Over the past week with the moisture we’ve seen I’ve seen an uptick in mosquitoes flying around and trying to make a meal out of me.  This has made me think about how we can reduce the number of mosquitoes where we live and why they bite some people more than others.

If my wife and I or my youngest son and I are outside together, it is almost guaranteed that the mosquitoes will bite them more.  Why is that?  Mosquitoes are attracted to CO2 we exhale while breathing, our body heat and movement.  When the female mosquito gets close she makes her final choice based on skin temperature, odor, as perfumes and colognes work as attractants, and other chemical and visual factors.  Dark colored clothing also attracts mosquitoes more than light colored clothing. 
As far as reducing the number of mosquitoes around your yard, I have some tips from Missoula County Extension.  Dispose of all water-holding containers, such as plastic jugs, empty barrels, tin cans, buckets, bottles, garbage, etc.  If you have old tires around, dispose of them.  Old tires have become one of the most productive breeding sites in this country.  Turn over canoes and small boats, or cover them with a tarp.  If covering with a tarp, make sure tarp does not sag down and collect water.  Cover trash containers, or drill holes in the bottom of recycle containers to keep rain water out.  Empty wading pools weekly, or store them inside when not in use.  Change water in birdbaths weekly.  Keep drains and ditches clean so water will drain properly.  Fill in any ruts or low spots that could collect and hold water for more than one week.  If storing wheelbarrows outside, store upside down, or cover with a tarp.  Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed so adult mosquitoes don't hide in the shaded areas during the day.  Fill in hollow stumps with sand or concrete.  Inspect eave troughs to assure water is draining properly.  Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with fish.  Water gardens may become major mosquito producers if allowed to stagnate.  I know I have several things out of those tips that I can do better at to cut back on mosquito habitats. 

If you do have bodies of water near your home that might need some attention I would encourage you to visit with your local mosquito control district as they have chemical sprays that they are certified to use. 
To wrap things up this week, to protect yourself from bites, make sure window and door screens are “bug tight.”  Try using proper lighting, such as fluorescent lights as incandescent lights attract mosquitoes.  Lastly, wear an insect repellent that is right for you.  For some people, this might be something containing DEET, but for others it might be a repellent containing picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.  No matter, what you use, please consider using something if you are not wearing long sleeves and pants.

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